Liminal Luminous

a wandering, wondering space of devotion, creativity and freedom.

Church, judgement and limiting God

I saw a friend of a friend’s post on Facebook yesterday, she was in Asda, minding her own business when a woman stopped and stared at her, and said “I can’t believe you have scarred your body like that, it’s disgusting”(talking about the woman’s tattoos) and then walked off. People commented on the post saying ‘you should have told her to eff off’ and ‘how rude’ and someone else said something that stopped me in my tracks

I bet she goes to church, all the judgemental people I know go to church

And my heart sank, I could literally feel my whole body sag in disappointment. Yes! That is why I am so reluctant to call myself a Christian. Why I am worried about being outed as a Christian (but then blog about my wrestles with it). So many Christians are judgemental, mean and quite frankly nasty. Let’s just take the Westboro Baptist Church as an example. Hideous.

Now, I have no way of knowing if this woman is Christian, but regardless of whether or not she is, what happened to kindness? Or if you can’t find something nice to say don’t say anything at all. Or just being polite to everyone. Don’t get me wrong I am not perfect and I do silently judge a lot of people, what can I say? I’m working on it and when I catch myself doing it I ask for Jesus’ forgiveness and help in not doing that any more. Work In Progress. But I certainly wouldn’t march up to a random stranger and tell them how their existence offends me. What sort of person does that? Let’s be charitable and say that she was having an incredibly bad day and the sight of the tattoos triggered flashback to when she was attacked by a tattooed man. But did that help her in anyway?

Let’s be clear:

  • I have a tattoo. I love my tattoo and I am always doodling new ones. If I were braver I would be a lot more tattooed than I am, I see them as a positive scarification which can help to heal physical and mental trauma and reclaim the body for oneself
  • I have facial piercings, albeit it relatively conservative these days.
  • I am bisexual, I had many relationships with women and men before I got together with my husband. We are in a committed, monogamous, heterosexual marriage. I have no idea how this happened, that certainly wasn’t in my life plan, but I am deeply grateful for my marriage and my husband.
  • I have had a pretty alternative life and I don’t actually have many regrets about things, let’s face it, regrets don’t change anything, we can learn from past mistakes, but never change them. I’m certainly not ashamed or think it’s wrong or BAD.

so you can see why I worry about being a Christian and am almost reluctant to share my faith.

Yesterday I went to my church’s Your Kingdom Come prayer day. It’s part of a Church of England initiative. I had been in a workshop all day long, then had a meeting with my artist-mentor and I was physically and mentally exhausted and really didn’t want to go, but I had promised. An evangelist consultant in mission and ministry was leading the prayers and oh the prayers that were being prayed. There is still a deeply cynical part of me that was saying – this is too much, we can’t ask God for all of this, to heal the world that we have messed up. I completely understand that we can make changes and take action and that our prayer works, but I just couldn’t take this many people sat around in a circle asking for such specific things and such huge things on a global scale. But of course that is rather the point of the initiative, to pray for God’s Kingdom to come into this world, now, today. I’m annoyed that I was so fatigued that I had to leave early as I would like to discuss some of this, but I was exhausted.

Then I got home and started to worry. As I am wont to do.

  • Have I reduced God and made him tiny?
  • Am I keeping God small by my wanting to keep my faith quiet?
  • Is it that I can’t fully commit to my faith and so I have shrunk God to fit into the box that I allow Him?

Ouch. Painful thoughts.

I shared some of my concerns with my husband who said that my not being open about being Christian I am letting the voice of Christianity be those judgemental people whose faith seems to stem from hatred and fear. The same as if your everyday Muslims aren’t open about being Muslim all that is seen is the radical ISIS as the voice of Islam. Hmm, that’s a really difficult idea for me.

I’d love to end this with a nice wrap up of how I am going to change my behaviour and start proclaiming my love for Jesus everywhere. That’s just not going to happen. It really isn’t. At least not yet. What I can do is pray that God can change me and help make my faith larger. I think it is fairly strong, I certainly know that I am not able to cope without Him and having several prayer times throughout the day. But I don’t think I have fully committed and trusted in God and the thought of having to make that journey is scary, but one I know I need to make.

ARGH! No certainties here. What do you think?

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